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I’ve often said that as human beings, we often make the mistake of making things more difficult than they are. One example of this is the simplified idea of troubleshooting an HVAC electrical circuit from the perspective of reading a wiring diagram and applying the concept of what I like to refer to as Potential Voltage and Applied Voltage.

To illustrate, consider the diagram in Figure One below that shows the circuitry of an electric furnace.

Figure One

 

On this diagram, you can easilily locate test points related to Applied Voltage and Potential Voltage. For example, isolating one of the heating elements, we can see that there is an N.O. (Normally Open) switch shown wired in series with it, and the identifiers on this particular switch are M1 and M2 (M, meaning Main set of contacts on a sequencer …SEQ #1 in this case…..), and in a sitution in which a technician would want to find out if this circuit is working like it should, a smple test for Applied Voltage would be a good place to start.

Checking with a voltmeter directly at the wiring connections for the heating element to find out if the required 240-volts was being applied or not would allow us to begin to evaluate this particular circuit in the event we were troubleshooting a situation in which the customer was complaining that the unit wasn’t heating properly. And, depending on the results of that test, we would be able to find out if the element itself, or the switches wired in series with it, could be a source of a problem.

For the sake of creating a troubleshooting scenario, let’s say that the answer to the question, “Is there voltage applied to the element?” is no. The reading we get with the meter is 0-volts, not the 240-volts that would allow the element to provide heat as long as it OK, meaning that it would have the proper resistance if we checked it with an ohmmeter.

But….I digress. We’re not talking about using an ohmmeter to check resistance, we’re talking about doing a “hot” test with a voltmeter to determine which component in the circuit could be a source of the problem, so, back to the idea of Applied Voltage and Potential Voltage….

Once our first test showed no Applied Voltage, our next step would be to check the switches wired in series with the element ot see if they were doing what they were supposed to do, which introduces the idea of checking for Potential Voltage.

Moving to the left of the element, there is a fuse. Checking directly at the terminals of this fuse would be implmenting a check for Potential Voltage because of a simple rule regarding a switch (which, is technically what a fuse is….just a switch that only opens once). And that rule is, “Voltage can be read across an open switch”.

And, in the event that we read 240-volts at the fuse terminals, it would prove six things, all with one check of the meter:

1. The fuse is open.

2. The heating element is not open.

3. The limit switch to the right of the element is not open.

4. The M1 and M2 terminals of the sequencer are closed.

5. The fuse shown at #1 on the main terminal block on the L1 side is not open.

6. The fuse shown at #1 on the main terminal block on the L2 side is not open.

The above can be proven as true when you consider tracing the Potential Voltage circuit we’ve set up by checking the fuse.

If you trace from the left terminal connection of the fuse, you’ll go all the way back to the L1 side of the line. If you trace from the right terminal connection of the fuse, you go all the way back to the L2 side of the line, proving along the way that the element, the limit switch, and the fuse at #1 on the L2 terminal block must be in the condition I mentioned above, because if any of those  conditions didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be able to get the Potential Voltage reading at our test points.

Like I said….no reason to make things more difficult than they really are.

Learn from yesterday…..Live for today……Look forward to tomorrow

Jim

 

 

In wrapping up this series on the topic of HVACR contractors and their web sites, I want to talk about blogs.

First, regarding a blog….have one on your site. And, second, understand what a blog is and, just as importantly, what it isn’t.

A blog is something that a visitor to your site can click on and learn something, anything, that you think is of value to them. It could be a simple explanation on how a heat pump operates, complete with an animated drawing that explains how the system removes heat from the building in the summer and sends it outside where it’s not wanted (remember, the formal definition of a refrigeration is “the transfer of heat from a place where it’s not wanted to a place where it’s not objectionable”), and then, during the winter, it picks up the heat from the outside and sends it into the building.

And, yes, a consumer will be somewhat confused about the fact that a heat pump system can actually transfer heat from the outside to the inside when it’s colder out there than it is inside the house, but, trust me, they will be able to understand a simple explanation on the concept of some heat being available until the temperature drops down to -460F. All the blog needs to do is explain the concepts that we take for granted in simple terms so your potential customer will be able to read what you’ve posted there without wondering what you’re talking about.

As far as what a blog isn’t, there are two factors for you to consider. First, it’s not a place for you to discuss your personal beliefs on religion or politics. If you want to discuss those subjects, create a new site that doesn’t have any connection to your business site and say whatever you think you need to say because you’ve decided it’s your responsibility to save the world or educate people that don’t have a clue.

And the second factor is that your blog isn’t a pitch page.

If you want to post information on condensing gas furnaces and explain why they are more efficient that other furnaces, fine; explain away, but don’t put a link in the blog that says “Click Here For More Information” that takes your visitor to a page where they fill out a contact form. If you want to put that link on the pages on your site that are pitch pages (of course, you’re going to have pitch pages on your site for crying-out-loud, that’s why you have a site in the first place) that’s fine. But a blog is a blog is a blog. It’s for information, learning and enlightenment. Your visitor knows darn well that they can click around on your site and get to a contact form if they want to. There’s no need for you to push them into getting in touch with you while they are enjoying being educated by information you’ve so generously provided for them.

And, speaking of your blog, you need to commit to doing it over, and over, and over, and over again, on a regular schedule, keeping it fresh and up-to-date. If you decide to commit to posting once a month, then do whatever you need to do in order to post once a month. People don’t like to see that you haven’t posted since 2010. And beyond that, when you use a content management system site, your posts can be easily archived so visitors to your site can access them, and having a consistent blog also affords you the benefit of more and more key words appearing on your site, which sets up your very own in-house SEO (Search Engine Optimization) system, a process that allows potential visitors to your site find you easier when they Google, Bing, or Chrome the services you provide.

So, by all means, blog.

Learn from yesterday…..Live for today…..Look forward to tomorrow

Jim

 

HVACR contractors understand that their customers depend on them to make the complex simple, and a reputable contractor can do that. To the average consumer, their air-conditioning equipment is a mystery even if they have some fundamental understanding that it has an electrical system, blows air around and through their home or business, and somehow employs that “Freon” stuff in order to keep them comfortable, or uses some type of fossil fuel in the winter to keep them warm.

Yup, contractors who have taken the time to make sure a customer’s questions are answered as completely as possible when they call to request service, and that the technician who responds not only knows what to do technical-wise, but also possesses the soft skills necessary to put the customer at ease and explain what will be and has been done, understand that they need to make it as simple and easy as possible for the customer.

And, yet, when it comes to their web site, some contractors fall short of accomplishing this fundamental mission.

The factor that I see most often that supports my theory on this subject is contact information…..and I don’t mean just a phone number and an email link. Certainly, that information has to be prominently displayed, but if you have a store-front operation or a building (even if it is in an industrial area that your customer would likely never visit), there’s a simple format that gives visitors a feeling that they can trust you when your home page, or any page on your site, shows up on their screen. And accomplishing it in WordPress is a simple task.

When your web developer/designer sets up your site, the page will be set in what is known as a Theme, with a banner across the top that shows your company name and logo (yes, you need a logo) along with drop-down menu buttons shown across the bottom of the banner. Directly below the banner there will be a larger area in the left and center of the page where you can place text and photos, and also a smaller area to the right known as a sidebar. The sidebar never changes no matter what page your visitor navigates to via the drop-down menu buttons, and the information that will always be front-and-center, right at the top of that sidebar will be:

1. Your company name.

2. Your street address. (If you use a PO Box for mail, list that too.)

3. Your phone number.

4. Your fax number. (Yes, believe it or not, some people still communicate via fax, so have one set up for them.)

5. The email address that a customer can reach you via a simple click that brings up a contact form.

The point of this simple format is to give the customer the opportunity to be familiar with your company as quickly as possible, and not have to search for your contact information or where you are located by scrolling down or searching around. I recommend this not just because of the familiarity issue, but also from an SEO standpoint.

What’s SEO? It’s Search Engine Optimization, which is a system that ranks your site according to its visibility on search engines, and if a visitor has to search tediously for some basic information, the fact that they are clicking around, back and forth, lowers your ranking. So make it easy for them to find out where you are and how they can get in touch with you.

Other things you can place on your sidebar are helpful links to other information resources for your customer, and a link to your blog, which is another must-have on your site. And, when you create a blog, make sure that’s all it is is a blog. Too often, a contractor takes the time to set up a blog on which they can discuss something related to HVACR, such as new developments in the industry that have resulted in higher efficiency operation of equipment, and then they include something along the line of “Click Here For More Information” which is a link that leads to a contact form or some other method of obtaining information or a sales lead.

Ummmm. no, that’s not a blog anymore. That’s a sales page. And, obviously, while you’re going to have sales pages on your site, a blog provides information, period. Free information. Information that your potential customer can use, learn from, gain a better understanding of things, etc….it’s not a page for direct selling.

When your web site is designed properly, there are pages that give you an opportunity to sell, and there are pages that are for providing help and information to your visitors. Let them pick the pages they want to buy from.

Learn from yesterday….Live for today….Look forward to tomorrow

Jim

 

An astute airline executive once said that if a passenger noticed coffee stains on their tray when they pulled it down from the seat in front of them, they would wonder what else was being overlooked regarding the maintenance of the plane. The same philosophy applies to a web site.

Is there a link on your site that says “Click Here” to read more about your company or a product you’re offering that doesn’t work when a visitor clicks on it?

Hmmmm….coffee stains on a tray = “Is this plane safe?”

On the surface, this might seem like a long reach, but think about it. I’m not saying that it immediately goes to the airline passenger wondering if a technician’s maintenance checklist was followed precisely, meaning that the procedure to follow when replacing a particular gasket and tightening each bolt to the correct foot-pound level in proper sequence was adhered to, so the access door won’t allow a cabin pressure problem, that would lead to an in-flight emergency, that could lead to a crash. Of course it doesn’t work that way. A passenger on a plane doesn’t have a clue about specific maintenance procedures. But they can decide on a dime that there may be a reason not to trust, and trust is what it’s all about.

Let’s face it. The Internet is rife with fraud and other depravities, and people know it.

Oh, they’re willing to give you a chance to prove that you can be trusted, and when they click on that aforementioned link and it works like it’s supposed to, their trust factor, which is tantamount to giving you the benefit of the doubt, is there. However, if that link doesn’t work, well, like the Elvis Presley song  “Suspicious Minds”, which is about a mistrusting and dysfunctional relationship and the need of the characters to overcome their issues in order to “go on together” says, things just aren’t working out.

How do you maintain your trust factor?

The first step is to make sure that part of your arrangement with your designer is that their fee not only covers getting your site up and running, but covers maintenance for a 12-month period.

The second step is to set aside a few minutes to look on your site every day. If there is a link to something, click on it to make sure it works. If you have “Add To Cart” buttons on your site, go shopping and make sure the right item winds up in the cart at the right price (yes, you can just empty your cart and won’t have to wind up buying something just to check on your site).

And, when was the last time you read your “About Us” text on your site? Is there a typo that’s been lurking there from the beginning but nobody (other than visitors to your site) has noticed it yet? If there have only been a couple of pairs of eyes involved in the text on your site, find more people to read it on purpose. Perhaps a simple edit will make more sense, or make it say the same thing in fewer words.

Having your site accomplished in WordPress is part of making this work. While other systems are complex and can only be managed by a designer who is familiar with the software, code, language, programming, or whatever all that stuff is called, you can, with a reasonable investment of time and energy either by you or someone in your office, become skilled enough to make minor changes on your site’s pages when this simple content management system is employed. And, of course, when it’s necessary to go beyond the minor changes, that’s when you call for help from the designer you hired to accomplish the site and provide a given amount of time every month in order to handle necessary major updates and other functions that are beyond your skill level.

It’s simple. Building a site is only the beginning. Keeping it fresh and up-to-date is ultimately what allows you to do business on the web.

Learn from yesterday….Live for today…Look forward to tomorrow

Jim

Many people who have been in business long-term and still are today will admit to you that if you had told them 20, or even 10 years ago, that they would be earning a significant amount of their revenue via the Internet, and providing goods and services to people not only in parts of the United States that are thousands of miles away from their ‘brick and mortar’ location, but in foreign countries, they would have been skeptical to say the least. But, it’s the truth. Things have changed, and “doing business on the web” is a way of life even if your company only serves customers in a local service area.

And, many service contractors in the appliance and HVACR industries have adapted to customers requesting service via email, selling non-functional parts and other goods on their web site and shipping them without any phone contact whatsoever with their customer….just an Add To Cart button on their site that allows a customer to make a purchase after viewing photos, reading detailed descriptions, or watching a video.

And, there are some contractors that haven’t done an exemplary job of creating a web presence and keeping it up.

With that thought in mind, I will offer my not-so-humble opinion about what makes a good site for a service company (or any company for that matter), and what doesn’t live up to what people now just simply expect when it comes to web commerce.

Rule One: Hire somebody to build your site and maintain it. I know that there are likely hundreds or maybe even thousands of opportunities to have a site built for free or almost free….and when you see some of these sites, that’s exactly what it looks like: done for free in a couple of evenings with the help of some downloaded freeware or maybe a “Web Sites For Dummies” book. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating flashing pages and a booming audio that looks and sounds like it a Hollywood production. But I am saying that you need to do your research and take advantage of what’s out there in the way of an up-to-date system and outsourcing the job to an independent contractor.

For example, instead of using any software system, move on to what is known strictly as a content management system employing WordPress. And…this is ironic….WordPress, since it isn’t somebody’s software, is free. But, that doesn’t mean you should just grab it up and then haul off and design and build your own site. Sure, either you, or somebody in your office will want to learn something about it so you can do some of the minor changes and even some experimenting once your site is up, but the bottom line in getting what you want means that you’ll have to hire a designer.

And in the world of WordPress that means getting the word out (via the web, of course) that you are looking for someone to handle your design, and you’ll have plenty of people getting back to you. And, be ready to consider entering into an agreement without ever having a face-to-face meeting. You might get lucky and have someone pop up near you, but then again, they might be hours out of your time zone.

When it comes to hiring a web designer, there are some important (and maybe not so comfortable) things for you to consider. For example, in the world of web people, you’ll most likely have to muscle up the faith to make some kind of payment of up front. That’s just how it is. I personally would not recommend  paying the entire fee up front the first time you work with somebody, and some designers out there want you to do that. I think it’s reasonable to enter into a 50/50 agreement.

The reason I think this OK is because some of the hands-down best designers you will encounter don’t have a team of people to work on your site, or even an office you can go to, unless you’re invited into their home and down the hall to their spare bedroom. And the fact of the matter is, when you’re hiring an independent designer, they have to protect themselves just like you do. So, get used to the idea of investing a deposit in order to to get things started on your new site.

How do you decide whether or not to hire somebody? Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. In the course of doing that, you’ll find the right person for the job and the end result will be a site that has what you want for your business, and one that your customers will respond to in a positive way.

On that subject, I’ll discuss that in detail in another segment.

Until next week….

Learn from yesterday….Live for today….Look forward to tomorrow

Jim

Redbook Magazine….imagine, not being able to trust an American institution like Redbook Magazine.

I found out recently that Redbook magazine, which has been around since 1903, can’t be trusted. It turns out that a while back, there was a special offer regarding a subscription to Redbook Magazine. If you were already subscribing to another magazine, you could, for the wonderfully small sum of $2.00 also purchase a one-year subscription to Redbook by using a credit card. What the offer didn’t tell you was that once your subscription was up, it would automatically be renewed via an automatic hit on the credit card you used to make the original purchase.

And, as it turns out, the only way you could find out that your credit card was about to be hit was if you happened to notice a small loose piece (called a ‘blow-in’ because that’s how they insert it in between two pages) that was included in a recent issue. And, if you did notice the piece in the first place, you also had to check the fine print on this seemingly innocuous and unimportant piece of paper to find out that if you don’t take action to cancel your subscription…well, as I said, your card will wind up being hit for a renewed subscription. Which, by the way, as I’m sure you can figure out, won’t be at the original $2.00 price.

And, oh, by the way, no matter how hard you search on the small blow-in piece, there’s no toll-free phone number listed so you can call to cancel if you want to. Heck, there isn’t even a non toll-free number listed so you can call to tell them that you don’t want them to hit your card for a renewal.

Redbook Magazine…so named by its first editor because, “Red is the color of cheerfulness, of brightness, of gayety.”

Well, there’s no cheerfulness, brightness, nor gayety in the fact that they’re engaged in what I consider to be a less-than-above-board practice. I mean, c’mon….I’m eligible for Social Security and my grandmother subscribed to Redbook Magazine! If Redbook Magazine is engaging in this kind of chicanery to sell subscriptions, how can you trust anything that’s printed on their pages anymore?

Well, they’re getting away with it, but we can all imagine what would happen if the HVACR industry decided that it would be OK to sell a service contract one year, and then just haul off and automatically hit the customer’s credit card for another year with nothing more than some kind of non-descript, easily ignorable “notice” that was inserted into a monthly issue of a magazine, and that ‘notice’ didn’t offer any simple and easy way to opt out of a renewed contract. All three major T.V. networks would be reporting the unsavory practice on their evening news reports. CNN’s Clark Howard would be warning us about this ripoff scam that would be reaching into our pocket for money.  There would be a thread on an Internet discussion board that would have several hundred comments about how HVACR contractors can’t be trusted.

No, we wouldn’t pull a stunt like this. We would let our customer know that their contract was due to expire and then ask them if they would like to renew.

Shame on Redbook.

Learn from yesterday…Live for today…. Look forward to tomorrow

Jim

 

 

To close or not to close, that is the question….

Ahhh, but, is that the question…?

No, it’s not. In reality it’s not the question because of course, anybody who is in the business of selling something is always supposed to close and ask for the order.  But, when it comes to the difference between closing in person (or, even on the phone), and closing via email, there is a question, and it needs to be answered.

In this day and age of e-commerce, it’s easy for people who sell things for a living to see the Internet as a double-edged sword. On one hand, being able to field a phone call and respond to a question with, “We can explain that by looking at our web site right now. If you’ll go ahead and bring it up, I’ll be able to show you the answer to that question,” or having the ability to post informational videos on You-Tube that lead people to your site is nothing short of wonderful. On the other hand, smart phones, Google, etc…have made fact and price confirmation almost second nature for savvy customers, and while I personally don’t see a problem with that, I know that some people in sales wish the Internet had never been invented…..whether Al Gore did it or not.

But, going beyond the love it/hate it relationship idea, there’s another issue that is important for salespeople while they are communicating with a potential customer who has chosen to use email rather than a phone to ask the questions they feel they need to ask in order to arrive at a buying decision. (By the way, this is not a discussion about shoppers shopping for nothing more than the cheapest price via the Internet. You’ll note that I said that it’s about customers who choose to confirm pricing and information via today’s technology, not somebody looking for the least possible low-ball price.) And, replying to those customers with answers to their questions is part of what it’s all about, and it’s also about closing the sale…..or is it?

Well, yes, but not in the same way we might close if we were dealing personally with perspective customer.

In a face-to-face situation, when the time is right, there’s nothing wrong with being direct, closing, and asking for the order. A simple “Are you ready to go ahead?” is a direct close that some might refer to as a ‘hard close’. But, as I said, in a face-to-face situation where you can judge what the customer is feeling, I don’t necessarily consider this  a ‘hard’ close as much as it is just a ‘direct’ close. If you’ve answered all the questions and explained all the benefits of making the purchase, then, by all means, go ahead and be direct.

In the event that it’s not face-to-face, though,  asking the same question via email doesn’t work. It’s just type on a screen, which makes it impersonal by nature. And, to the customer the same statement can feel like, “all right already, we’ve talked enough, so now are you ready to go ahead, and, if you’re not, say so and I’ll move on to the next customer”, which at best, is disappointing to them. At worst, they will be offended by what the perceive as nothing more than greed, and decide they don’t want to do business with you after all.

Closing via email is better accomplished with a “Please let me know if you have any more questions and let me know when you are ready to go ahead.”

Learn from yesterday….Live for today…..Look forward to tomorrow

Jim

At first blush, it may seem odd to be discussing carbon monoxide on an HVACR-related blog in August, but I came across a discussion thread on the subject recently, and read about a 65-year-old couple who lived in a housing authority rental in Portsmouth, Virginia, and recently died of carbon monoxide poisoning….they were found dead in their apartment in late June….and I decided that I had to talk about it in this week’s post.

I’ve said before that when it comes to CO poisoning (the chemical designation for carbon monoxide is CO since it is a product of carbon and oxygen), many consumers don’t think about the possibility of it happening until they consider the heating equipment in their homes, and whether or not it’s safe to operate their gas or oil furnace through the heating season. And, when they call in a professional to check their furnace sometime in the fall, one of the things they sort of have an idea about is that a fuel-burning furnace has a heat exchanger that, if it’s cracked, can cause the deadly by-products of combustion to leak into their living space. But, as I’ve also said many times before, CO poisoning doesn’t happen only in the winter, and it’s not only related to the operation of a furnace.

A water heater that operates on natural gas or propane could be the source of carbon monoxide in a building, and one of the reasons it can occur  is something that people often don’t think about; upgrading their home by making it more energy efficient. The reason this can happen is simple. Since a water heater employs a natural draft vent system that depends on a slightly negative pressure to expel carbon monoxide and the other by-products of combustion, making a building tighter could result in back-drafting, which causes causes the gases to spill back into the living space rather than being vented to the atmosphere. Non-vented appliances, such as gas ranges, are another source of dangerous CO levels in a building. If the burners are not properly adjusted and operating cleanly, they will emit higher-than-normal carbon monoxide.

Whatever the source, a CO alarm is supposed to protect the building inhabitants, but in the case of the people in Portsmouth,  according to a news report, an investigation found that the alarm had been tampered with because there was no battery and wires had been cut. The report didn’t offer any details beyond that observation, but one has to wonder why the alarm had been purposely disabled. When it comes to CO alarms many people are surprised to find that the one they have in their home is useless for a variety of reasons. The first one is the age of the device. I have a standard over-the-counter alarm that I show at the beginning of  our facility maintenance training workshops, and I tell attendees that although the alarm has never been out of the package, it is absolutely useless.

The reason? I bought it more than four years ago.

A CO alarm does what it does via a sensor that reacts to carbon monoxide, and in many cases, the shelf life of that sensor is approximately two years from the date of manufacture. A homeowner that isn’t aware of the fact that a CO alarm must be replaced regularly will often tell a technician that they are sure their alarm works because, they “change the battery every year and push the test button to make sure that the alarm goes off.”

That’s all well and good, but the fact of the matter is, pushing a test button only shows that the battery is not dead and that the alarm is being tested manually. The only way to check the sensor operation on a CO alarm is to employ a test kit consisting of a plastic bag that surrounds the alarm and an aerosol can of a chemical that, when sprayed into the bag, causes the alarm to sound.

Beyond the sensor life of a CO alarm, there is also its sensitivity to consider. In many cases, CO alarms are designed to sound only when the level of carbon monoxide in the building reaches a point where it would be harmful to a healthy adult male, which means that it provides practically no safety for women and children, infants, or the elderly, all of whom will be more adversely affected by lower levels of carbon monoxide.

As an HVACR technician it’s our responsibility to be aware of the limits of some CO alarms and conditions that can affect the proper operation of a vent system or a non-vented fuel-burning appliance.

Learn from yesterday….Live for today….Look forward to tomorrow

Jim

 

 

In a perfect HVACR world, all comfort cooling duct systems would be designed for maximum efficiency and minimal heat gain and installed properly so that objective would be achieved. But, as we all know ours is not by any means a perfect world. A duct system in a tract home, for example, is often far from perfect. And it’s not just because of the design of the duct system itself, or because the installation wasn’t done right. The design of the building is a factor. To make my point, I’ll use the example of a typical extended plenum supply duct system in which the main trunk is manufactured either from fibrous duct board or sheet metal, and the branches are flex duct.

It’s common to find this sort of design and use of materials in a home that employs truss roof construction that creates an ‘attic’ crawl space. And, temperatures in that space will be significantly higher than the outdoor ambient temperature, and fantastically higher than the temperature of the air being transported through the duct system. Not that the specific numbers are the most important thing to consider at this point in our discussion, but it’s not uncommon to find an attic temperature far beyond 100-degrees F, while, in fact the temperature of the air in the supply duct will often be in the mid 50s….at least that’s what it would be after leaving the indoor coil and just starting its journey to the supply registers.

But, imagine this: You decide to do a fundamental inspection on the duct system and the building described above, and as you enter the attic on a 95-degree outdoor ambient day, you look up and see the bottom side of the roof sheathing above you. No foam insulation sprayed on the plywood, just the sheathing. And, now imagine that you recall that the roofing on this building is the typical dark charcoal color shingles used on tract homes. And, of course, when you look down at the main trunk and the flex duct, you’ll note that it is resting on, or perhaps suspended just above, the correct amount of ceiling insulation.

Yes, a typical installation, with the ceiling insulation required by code, the main trunk properly constructed with a reducing plenum to promote the proper static pressure in the second and third segments, and the flex duct properly installed, tightly connected with nylon zip-type duct straps to the main trunk transitions and the boots for the supply registers, pulled tight with no extra ducting snaking around the crawl space or hanging awkwardly from a truss. An installation done correctly, according to design….and not working nearly as efficiently as it could.

The reason, of course, is the extreme temperature difference between the supply duct air and the crawl space. While the air may exit the coil at the design temperature when the outdoor temperature is relatively mild, you can bet that that the system won’t be able to perform as it should once the temperature rises. Consider this: Ductwork insulation may be rated as low as R-6 or even R-4, which means that the amount of inevitable heat gain that will result in, say, one branch of the system, means that the discharge air temperature from that register will be significantly higher than it needs to be in order to achieve the desired comfort level in that room. And, that will result in extended run cycles that affect equipment performance, and increase operating cost.

The solution to this type of performance problem isn’t rocket science. Foam insulation on the underside of the sheathing will bring the crawl space temperature down significantly, or adding extra insulation around all ‘exposed’ ductwork to increase the R-factor and reduce the amount of heat gain in the air supply system will also allow the equipment to do the job it is designed to do.

Learn From Yesterday….Live For Today….Look Foward To Tomorrow

Jim

Being up-to-date can mean different things. In the case of the HVACR technician who has a great deal of general training along with extensive work experience in troubleshooting refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, up-to-date can mean a short, one-hour, factory-provided training session on the latest version of  ECM (Electronically Commutated Motor) and the newest, updated troubleshooting procedures that don’t apply to earlier versions of this type of motor but do, in fact, apply only to this newest product.

And, without that “up-to-date”, one-hour information session, that technician may be lost when encountering that particular motor, which could result in wasted time, a mis-diagnosis, unnecessary expense for the customer, stress for the technician, etc….

“Up-to-date” can also have a different meaning for somebody without the great deal of training along with extensive work experience as described above. It could mean that this particular technician needs either an overview or a review of the fundamental concpets of electrical troubleshooting, or the general test procedures related to a particular type of relay or control system, or, maybe the same level of information related to refrigeration and air flow systems.

And, that “up-to-date” information could have been published this year, last year, the year before that, yet another year before that, or even five years ago, and it it will be “up-to-date” because the fundamental concepts being taught were developed and understood early in the history of  the development of HVACR (such as the physics that govern the ability of a refrigeration system to accmplish heat transfer or the concepts that explain how to trace an electrical circuit from source-to-source in order to isolate that circuit and then perform the appropriate component testing….providing one has an understanding of what ‘right is in the first place’….to determine through the process of systematic elimination whether that component or another one in the circuit is responsible for the failure of the equipment to operate), because it’s general, common-sense information that technicians need to know in order to do their job.

All of this simply means that technicians need to know if what they need is ‘up-to-date” specific, applying-only-to-a-particular-component information, or ‘up-to-date’ information on general principles that actually helps them do two things:

1. Develop their overall troubleshooting skills.

2. Be able to completely understand what’s being presented in the first ‘up-to-date session  I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Learn from yesterday….Live for today….Look forward to tomorrow

Jim

 

 

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